I´m a Brazilian Baptist Pastor and soo much interesting in understand this expression “religious abuse”.
Can you spend a minute to send one email explain this expression? Whats means? Its soo different to my culture, but i am really interested in know this.
My pleasure. I spent years in defeat, self-loathing, and fear as a result of the religious abuse I experience in the California cult and, if I can do anything to help someone else out of a similar emotional prison, that’s what i want to do with my life.
Thank you for the opportunity Jack….I am a Christian man, a believer in Jesus and God’s redeptive power….my father was a Pastor for years before he passed away a few years ago, so my thoughts towards this issue always lean toward the spiritual. I have always believed that the church is the one place where we should be connected as a people….the church should pave the way for improved race relations, but yet sadly Sunday continues to be the most segregated day during the week.
I just subscribed to your website, so I look forward to reading your future comments. Please feel free to contact me at any time…I enjoy the dialogue and I know that I will be learning things from you as well 🙂
This post wouldn’t load for me – others may have the same problem.
Where I am at in my life this is a post I would definatly like to read so if worst comes to worst can you emial me a copy of it as it is right on target for me.
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
This comment can be deleted and not posted – it is the best way I know how to contact you.
Becoming Stuck in Anger
Posted: 23 Jan 2009 03:39 AM CST
STEP 6 is where your commitment to recovery becomes tested, and it’s a place where it’s easy to get stuck. In the aftermath of abuse, being angry is understandable. For a short period, it’s normal and even healthy. The problem is that more people than not become stuck in their anger. When they do, it leads […]
That would be a control freak pastor. It’s his way or no way. It’s his personality and how he views things and of course ultimately if it’s not his way, you will be judged by him.
A pastor should be a shepherd. Leading his people gently and wisely. Not making them do things his way because he is too closed minded to know that all people/christians are on a different page in the book of life, where God molds us and makes us. We must all go thru what God has awaiting us for our own good. Sometimes that means going astray until one realizes God’s message as that is what it takes for some.
Being controlled and judged is not a fellow christians duty. Love your neighbor as yourself, be with them, bear the burdens with them when you know it will help, other times, we have to let them go and pray.
God doesn’t require us to worship Him. He longs for us to and He is Love and Goodness and Mercy.
Not a control freak. If we dont’ chose Him, we have chosen ultimately. There is no love in forced love. It’s enslavement.
So becuase we are all on different pages inthe book of life, so are our views and as long as the end result is the same; following God and his plans for our life. No one has the right to CONTROL you. Only to guide you and plant that seed. Let go and let God.
Your commentary on the Gates incident and the President’s reaction is insightful.
Shelby Steele, author of “The Content of One’s Character,” encourages fellow African-Americans to “come off the plantation.” It is apparent that Gates and Obama still have at least one foot on the plantation property.
Being a victim is a very convenient way to operate and even manipulate.
“Coming off the plantation” and taking responsibility for one’s life goes against the current “modus operrandi” of the Jessie Jacksons and Al Sharptons of this age, but can be much more rewarding. Simply witness the liberation that Mr. Steele has in his association with the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, just down the road from me in San Mateo. No cotton pickin’ for him! 🙂
Wow, Jack. These prayer on grief and anger as well as the other things I have read that John has gotten (I don’t know what order-kind of confusing) are just awesome. I am really amazed. They are just incredible. I loved your books, of course, but these are like reading the Psalms or something. Maybe that’s why God is allowing this nervous energy so it will pour out like this.
This is John. I really think that a book of prayers with Scripture is a great idea. People really like that kind of thing. It is practical and short. It doesn’t have to be a long book, just a pamphlet kind of thing. Even chaplains might like them to read with patients etc. The work will come as a result of this other project. But I’d go ahead and talk to someone about it now, planting the seed at least.
I want to tell you something not to belabor my hardships, but to be an encouragement to the direction of your ministry. I am a victim and a statistic of Christian divorce partially because of a former husband who got disillusioned with the church …we were a very strong couple team ministry, both in word and lay-pastoral ministry; like Priscilla and Aquila. I am a worship leader, and still function in this ministry now as a single woman, while my former husband lives with another woman, and pretty much left his core values to boot. It was a difficult transition for my sons, who now live life on the edge, but I can see God starting to turn things around after four years, (long story). =]
My former husband and I are amicable, and I can see that his heart is starting to soften, because the bottom line is he loves God, just hates the hypocrisy he sees in the church. (Not that it is an excuse to go the way he did, but he did.) Anyway I said this, because I think many of us growing out of the Jesus culture movement in the 60’s-70’s have dealt with the abuses of the churchin many ways; some drink, live more on the edge, some have left the faith, and some drudgingly stick it out, but have lost some of the inner spark. We cry out for revival, but the truth is, we need to return to our first love.
I will not go back to with my former husband; because it would be an unpredictable life of reacting to all the issues you are well versed at. I have set my face forward to serve with all my heart, God who I know is completely trustworthy…I do however, know the damage and brokenness of hurt people who hurt people. I pray for great success in your ministry efforts…”Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall inherit the earth.” Matt 5:9 – thank you my new friend; I just love Divine connections!
I just finished writing this and it expresses to me something of what Jesus felt when he died on the cross of his own free will. I learned this while I was dealing with my parents estate. I has not been easy.
I guess I just want to bless eveyone here and yourself as well – I am sure may of your readers will understand what I am sharing here and I hope they will be encourged by my words. This was such a blessing for me to write.
BLOOD IS NOT THICKER THAN WATER
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Sharing similar DNA does not a family life make. It’s is just scientific proof that a genetically related community of people may or may not work like a family in reality. So blood is simply not thicker than water as the old saying claims.
It is the death of my parents and dealing with their estate that has finally opened my eyes to this reality. Yet I have been trying to deny it for so long.
For years I have felt unknown and unwanted by the family I originally belonged to and now I wonder, is this a common experience many of us share?
In vain my parents tried to modify me into someone some of my siblings would find more acceptable to them. I never did understand this need by them for me to be fixed.
As I have dispersed my parents estate however I have become aware they did the same with all my siblings. My parents’ loved our family and our family life. It was priceless to them so I can forgive their desire to preserve it so passionately it sometimes impinged on who I wanted to be.
Now mum and dad have died I can see that parents who have several children have to witness the gradual breaking down of the family life they created as their children grow apart when they move off and make family lives of their own. This is the sorrow of parenthood unknown when the little bundles of joy arrive with great anticipation and fanfare the day these same children are born.
I can see my mother’s face and feel her holding my hand with great insistence and strength in the last few days before she died as she said to me about my siblings “You can still be friends.” She understood the family dynamics well and worked hard and passionately to the end to keep the family together.
In so many ways the dying time of my mother was the last time were all united under the same family banner we had known in our childhood. Somehow our own lives were held in suspended animation by our will power as we united for mum’s swan song as mum would put it.
It is only now, more than twelve months since her death, I finally understand Mum’s hope that friendship may hold the family she and dad created together. Today I see the same hope manifested in my sister’s values and behaviors. Between them they have eight children.
I find I do not share this hope when it comes down to the wire. I see now me and my siblings have all gone different ways and share little in common but our DNA. Children all leave the nest and make their own way in the world in time. The little heaven of a shared family life that is so precious soon disappears into the mists of time only to be rediscovered and then lost again by a new generation.
Today I am only friends with one of my siblings and have a very ‘business like’ pragmatic relationship with the rest. There is little warmth left there. The memories of childhood have faded and become myths and legends we share at the next wedding or funeral we attend for a few brief hours till we all return to our own real lives.
I loved my parents with my whole heart. They were generous and kind. They loved all their children and grandchildren and took many others into their hearts. When I gladly took on the job of handling their estates after their death at their request I had no idea I would handle the final demolition of the family life they created.
This work is finished now and I find myself alone with all my siblings, my nieces and nephews unaware that I have become my self during this torrid and lonely journey. I had no idea this is what would happen to me but I am so glad I have arrived. I feel I have finally grown up and I am happy with the me I am now even though my parents never met this me.
The hard part about growing up for me is becoming who I really am and holding that ground when family members pressure me to conform to their idea of who I should be. It can be such a lonely journey to strike out into my own destiny I have delayed as I handled my parent’s affairs. Still I find this delay such a great preparation for the authentic life I am ready to have now.
Standing in my own shoes today I guess that is why some people never grow up and die as children at heart when they are old. Other’s just busy themselves with living out the myths currently in fashion of what really living is. More drown their angst about becoming real in drugs and alcohol or any other diversion that comes easily to hand.
When I reached maturity at 21 I was just a prototype of who I could be, not the final result. As the years have rolled by the hard knocks of life have beaten me into a rough shape while the love and kindness of others, many of them strangers, has smoothed out the bumps and lumps the hard knocks created.
Today I love my life and who I am. The mirror shows my battle scars well in the right light and I look old and quite worn in places. That is somehow comforting to my now dimming eyes.
Now I find I am a child of God and part of his family. The complete family of mankind is now my family and my family of origin is just a shadow of the family I now have access too. And so Jesus has become my friend and his hopes of family life for our world have become mine when it’s all said and done.
I had no idea my own ideas of what family life is would so radically change the day my mother was told she had bowel cancer. It is her companionship and love for me during her dying time that has shaped my understanding. She was such a wonderful teacher.
At the end of the day it’s my neighbor that matters most and I don’t even know the names of mine. Perhaps it’s time to find out. If I fall it is my neighbor that will come to my rescue, my family are simply too far away.
This is my parent’s truest legacy to me, I know what being part of the family of all mankind is. I am so grateful for that.
Now it’s my time to live out my dreams. That is exactly what my parents have prepared me to do by the example of their own life and death.
God bless them both. They have taught me how to nurture the ground my ancestors will inherit even though many will never know my name. Perhaps this is what truly dying well can be. Letting go of everything we have so unseen generations can know what it like to have it all.
I had a bad experience at work yesterday being verbally abused and treated badly by a parson whose home I was asked to call at so I could do the job I have now. I was shaken by it and felt totally drained of energy so I wrote this as my way of coming to terms with it. This morning another worker in my team was physically attacked visiting another home and I just don’t understand why people are treating workers doing a legitimate government funded job like this.
This is my voice on this issue.
THE WORLD ASKS WHAT AM I WORTH BUT WHO CARES FOR MY SOUL?
Saturday, August 27, 2011
In the workplace so much happens that is not documented. The damage and benefit the work does to our souls is not recorded.
I have been working on a project that requires information be collected by visiting residents in their homes and I have found this work both uplifting and discouraging to my soul. My workplace statistic’s and productivity do not reflect this reality but my body and soul feel like they have taken a pounding when I get home some days.
When my soul is lifted up I notice the encounters with people are pleasant. This happens where the work required is done with good will and consideration by all parties for each other.
When this exact same work is done where the way people relate is unpleasant and aggressive my soul is downcast and my energy levels rapidly plummet. Yet the work done is the same.
My employer looks at the bottom line rather than what has happened to me while I was working. I noticed this today and realized we are all caring or not caring for each other’s souls in the way we do things and relate to other people.
The challenge in this is the reality that caring for souls is considered the domain of the religious among us and most of us are unaware we are impacting each other’s souls by the way we live and relate to other people. There are no statistics for this work we are all doing all the time and this is not exclusively the domain of the religious among us but a common reality everyone of every faith encounters.
Right now stop and ask yourself how your soul is being cared for and how you are caring for the souls of others? There is a good chance you may never have asked yourself this question in such a clear way before.
How you answer this question will help you recognize attitudes and values you and those around you hold that are damaging your soul or the souls of those you care for. The positive realization is that you may notice attitudes and values you hold that are helping you and others to thrive. Now you can do those things more often of your own free will.
Imagine a world where people care for each other’s souls – sounds like heaven to me. The good news is we can have this kind of heaven here in this world today when we make the choice to do so.
We do not need to change the world – just our own point of view. Today we can positively impact the souls of those in our family and our workplace just by choosing to care for the souls of the people we are dealing with every day. The work won’t change but how we and they feel when we face it day in and day out could be made more joyful.
I’ll attempt to define “religious” abuse in simple terms. Anything that poses as “God” that isn’t from God (idolatry). Any system of rituals, teachings, Imposible standards, human rules and traditions, outward appearances(masks), that raises up mankind or forces him down or out. An unauthorized authority that has no authority. All Godly authorities are submitted to God and under God’s authority, truth and Spirit, henceforth they can model what God does. Everyone who sets himself up as the authority or example and expects others to unquestioningly follow is not from God. They perpetuate abuse because they either abdicate or dominate; neglect or negate love, control or withhold. they deny and fail to model Biblical Godly authority. “IF the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. Abusers are blind, they have not taken the log out of their own eyes to see clearly to take the speck out of their own, they project and expect others to introject their faults instead of owning them. Unquestioned obedience yeilds confused boundaries. questions are healthy as is accountability. A religious abuser cannot face themselves honestly they expect others to follow them with unquestioned obedience or deny reality to their own detriment. Religious abusers give impossible standards or no standards or inconsistent standards. They do not understand justice and mercy. Love and truth, they split them apart. “all the secrets of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in JESUS CHRIST” “There is one mediator between God and man Jesus Christ. Jesus condemned the pharisees for their religious abuse. “You shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, you do not go in yourselves nor do you permit those who are trying to come in to enter”(Control, neglect, bondage) “Blind guides”(log in eye, hypocrits, do not model what they teach) “Brood of vipers”(true identity behind the mask) “you tie up heavy loads on mens backs, and you do not lift one finger to help” (impossible rules to keep, no compassion or assistance) “white washed tombs” (mask wearing dead men)
All sin is selfishness. Abuse can simply be defined as selfishness. All abuse is selfishness and sometimes masquerades as “kindness” or “religion” with conditions or a trap behind it. cruelty is not always outright. Sometimes it is disguised by religious sounding terms. “If you loved God you would give money to the church”…..”Honor your father and mother”, as I sexually molest you, or verbally degrade you. “IF you have God, you shouldn’t need or expect anything from me” Religious abuse is lies, masquerading as God’s truth. Religious terms and bible verses and cbible concepts are distorted or misquoted to deceive and control and destroy individuals love and freedom. Abusers are controlled by the devil and think they are God’s servants “the devil masquerades as and angel of light, and his servants are able to transform themselves into servants of righteousness” “masks of light” concealing evil intent.
Religious abuse can also be simply defined as bluring the boundaries between good and evil. Jesus said “woe unto those who put dark for light and light for dark” “woe unto those who call evil good, and good evil”. Religious abusers make it “good” to do evil, and evil to do good. Either subtly or overtly they attribute evil to God and good to Satan. Read Psalms 1 for the antidote to religious abuse.
religious abusers, say but don’t do…..act and react but don’t live. They act holy but have secret sins, they blameshift and never say “I’m sorry” they take responsibility for what is not theirs, and place responsibility that does not belong onto others. They are greedy for money or gain, prestige or power, control or adoration. they have no humility or operate in false humility. All of this happens in a “religious” context, the dressing of religion and ritual and spiritual words is all designed to conceal and confuse the real issues.
Religious abuse can be as sublte as going through the motions without God’s love or spirit driving you from the inside. Jesus said “whoever does not gather with me scatters”. Religious abusers are not walking with JESUS, they are scattering God’s flock instead of gathering them into the sheep pen of the Good Shepherd. The apostle Paul said “follow me as I follow Christ” he wasn’t leading people to himself but to the one He was following. “come with me on the journey toward JESUS CHRIST” is the message of every Godly leadre or parent. Religious abusers have another message, “join the church” “submit to my authority” “I am God’s anointed one” “trust yourself” “dress this way” “live my way”…all such messages really can’t help us.
why do we have to hate every thing, I know I to have been to quite a few churches in my time which I have not fitted in and more likely because of my sin nature that lumes day in and day out. I have not found that total peace and still l have problems with understanding every thing and proabley never will, I love God and what he is we can have a realtionship with him however there are so many devices that still pull us apart from one another, why is this so, Money? Greed, power< what happened to just loving God and letting him figure out how he is to be worshiped, Is it that hard?Is he not God and knows how to handle these kinds of thoughts?
I would use scripture but I know that it would be used to mean what ever any one wanted it to mean. I never said I understood but remember that I love God as well and HE is the aurthur of true love and for some reason he see's the purity in us we can not that which has kept him from destroying us all to date. So I guess it's time for every one to pick at me for every reason there is but that will never change the fact that I love God, and exspecial what his son gave for us which is to have this oppurtunity to write these words of mispelled replies, Loved but lost, I have a passion for him which if I had the gutts (faith)to go out and tell the children of light so that I could empty what seems to be filling my heart to be shared to any one with any ear to hear or a chance to listen, but I know I am no more than just one spec of sand between his toes.
God Bless and may the peace of God be upon you and yours.
Robert ,the misfit of Virginia always looking for the truth and peace for all of us which will never happen until his glory is revealed in his coming than we will all know the truth, who is right and who is wrong, I just hope we have this chance to become like minded in just a pure Godly love we all long and search for.
Jack, thank you for your posts! This one is awesome!
I’ll take a shot at defining “religious abuse”. First of all, I agree with Kathy’s post and Theo’s first post. I also agree with Delmer that “the church is the one place where we should be connected as a people”.
Pastors and spiritual leaders hold a tremendous amount of power. With or without spiritual abuse, that power of which I write is the ability to affect someone’s life for eternity! What an incredibly serious responsibility Christ has given to these leaders! Although none of us are perfect, spiritual abusers use this as an excuse while never holding themselves accountable for actions that harm. They live and speak a double standard–the “no one is perfect/yet I am infallible” syndrome. That means that the spiritual abuser gets excused for any mistakes while the “victim” is condemned for anything that offends the abuser because he does no wrong. As goofy as that sounds that’s the irony of the abusive personality as who has to have complete control and admiration.
I would define religious/spiritual abuse as actions of the church that single out/alienate a fellow believer because the pastor says so. Pastors/leaders who abuse are those who forget their call to serve Christ and do NOT place His will and ways above their own. They are self-serving, cannot tolerate anyone who disagrees with them, and are not held accountable for their own actions. Sadly, this is usually so deeply ingrained in the structure of the individual congregation that the ordinary Sunday goer doesn’t recognize the dysfunction. In fact, the elders believe they are doing God’s Will because the pastor says so. Religious abuse happens when congregations give unhealthy adulation to pastors and literally follow Him rather than Christ. Too often these congregations don’t recognize this because of these categories: 1) Some don’t want to see it; 2) some don’t know enough Scripture to see it; 3) Some see it but don’t have the gutts to stand up to it.
When someone DOES stand up to the abuse, they are singled out, alienated, literally shunned.
Everyone suffers when spiritual abuse occurs. Certainly the victim’s life is drastically changed! The body of Christ greatly suffers as well. I actually feel sorry for the congregation who was led to abuse me. They are lost to the ways of Christ. I read this following quote somewhere and can’t remember where. Perhaps it was you, Jack? “The sins of the people are directly connected with the sins of the leader.” Amen! God have mercy on those who abuse for they are lost and will be held accountable! God have mercy on those who are abused so that they may separate Christ from the abusive church and its ways. They are literally “false teachers” by their actions against Scripture.
Thanks for allowing me to comment. Sorry if I’m a bit redundant.
Hello Jack, I was glad to come across your blog. I am a female veteran with PTSD who suffered for years under various forms of Spiritual abuse, to the point of trying to find a religion or more a loving God to worship.
I was molested by a church deacon during my teen years. My grandmother was a “fire and brimstone” Christian who scared God into me. She had me take classes at church on spiritual warfare before I someone I knew was putting spells on me. As I joined the military, God took a sort of drill sargent form, that when I pray, I felt worse; as if God was saying, “pour dirt on that wound and walk it off”.
As I am 39 years old approaching 40, I am still living with this and still very confused. Not sure how to undo the damage. Going to church is just going through the motions, like going to a family reunion that I don’t want to attend. I only hope that in time, I can heal these wounds.